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"Cotton, cattle and Cabernet": Wine industry booming in Texas

When you think American wines, your taste buds might expect something from Napa or Sonoma
Texas wineries pour ingenuity into wild west 04:18

When you think of American wines, your taste buds might expect something from Napa or Sonoma, but it might be time to raise a glass to Texas, reports CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez.

"Cattle and oil in Texas has always been king. Now in Texas we have cotton, cattle and Cabernet," Neal Newsom said.

Newsom is a pioneer of the Texas wine industry. He planted his first vines nearly 30 years ago.

"We weren't sure if it was going to work," Newsom said. "We took some old, obsolete equipment, and cut it up and made it real small so it could fit down in a vineyard."

Today, Newsom's 144-acre West Texas vineyard produces 12 different varieties of grapes, sold to 12 different wineries.

"I get picked on a lot down at the coffee shop. Slowly but surely we planted a few acres every year and our grapes have wound up in these wineries and reserve programs, so it speaks for itself," Newsom said.

Grapes have also become a new cash crop for farmers, who are swapping out water-hogging cotton plants for vines.

In 2013, wine and grape production created nearly $2 billion in economic activity for the state. With its high altitude, deep sandy soil and dry climate, West Texas has become one of its key wine-making regions.

The McPherson family has been bottling wines for more than 40 years.

Kim McPherson's father "Doc" faced skeptics early on. When he built his first winery back in the late 70s, he made it out of cinder blocks because he worried the neighbors would vandalize it.

"Oh yeah, they shot at them at the winery out here in West Texas, they go, 'Wine? No.' And now they can't get enough of it. Ninety percent of the grapes in the states are grown up here," McPherson said.

Today, the McPherson's unique vintages are coveted by a new generation -- millennials.

"They are not drinking what their parents drink. The mom and dad might be drinking Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot. And they really don't want to drink that. You give them a weird wine like Carignon or Mourvèdre or Cinsault or Viognier, they're going, 'Oh, we like that. We love this,'" McPherson said.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine executive editor Susan Kostrzewa said the American wine market is changing.

"We have this whole new segment of wine drinkers coming onto the market," Kostrzewa said.

The magazine listed Texas Hill Country outside Austin among the 10 best wine travel destinations in the world last year.

"Texas is all about big things and Texan wines are big. They have big flavors. They're fruity, they're generous, they're fun wines," Kostrzewa said.

Buyers around the country are taking notice.

Anthony Quinn, the wine manager for Cleveland Park Wines in Washington, D.C, routinely stocks Texas vintages in his store.

"I can't believe every time I try them how good they are. I mean, they're really good," Quinn said. "Texas is really, really right there with everyone else."

McPherson aims to make his wine accessible to every table.

"Most wine is consumed within six hours after purchase, so that's where I want to be," he said. "I don't want you to save it, I want you to drink it," he said.

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